James Roberts: MOM incubator

Work / Product Design

Life-changing designs – we round up our favourite Dyson Award Winners

When the winning Dyson Award Winner is announced each year, every time it’s humbling proof of the power of design for change, and the power of young designers to make the designs that can make those changes.

The prize is awarded each year to a university level student or recent graduate studying product design, industrial design and engineering, who "design something that solves a problem”, says Dyson. Usually, these are ambitiously big problems to tackle, making the ideas put forward prove design’s potential to change the world. The international prize is £30,000 for the student, and £10,000 for the student’s university department, going towards further development of the prototype.

While it’s certainly not been an easy task, we’ve listed our top five past winners.

1. Michael Chen, Reactiv

In 2008, an invention that’s both safety conscious and evokes powerful and fond memories of Lazer Quest won the prize, in the shape of Michael Chen’s with his Reactiv cycling jacket. The clever garment also borroes from the colour ways of Lazer Quest, and traffic lights, illuminating in green when riding fast, and red when braking. Additional LEDs shine amber on the arms when turning, making for a very wearable product that would undoubtelry help make cycling a hell of a lot safer.


Samuel Adeloju: Longreach “buoyancy bazooka”

2. Samuel Adeloju, Longreach

A fantastically alliterative description accompanies 2010’s winner, the Longreach “buoyancy bazooka”. Aimed to assist in water-based emergencies, the invention of Australian Samuel Adeloju shoots an emergency buoyancy aid 500 feet out to sea, and is made from hydrophobic foam which rapidly expands upon hitting the water. To attract attention, it also features flares for night-time illumination


Yusuf Mohammed and Paul Thomas: Automist fire detector

3. Yusuf Mohammed and Paul Thomas, Automist

In an impressive and heart-warming story, 2009’s winner, home fire-safety device the Automist, is already being installed in homes around the world. Designed by RCA graduates Yusuf Mohammed and Paul Thomas, the piece is installed on kitchen taps and contains a wireless heat detector that senses and automitcallly extinguishes kitchen fires by pumping out a fine mist of water.


Dan Watson: SafetyNet sustainable fishing tool

4. Dan Watson, SafetyNet

Another water-based device saw another RCA Graduate, Dan Watson, scoop the 2012 Award. This time it was all about helping fish: the SafetyNet aims to help trawler fishers work more sustainably. As a modification for trawler nets, it features glowing rings that can be fitted to allow juvenile and unmarketable fish to escape. The design has now finished its prototyping stage and is now preparing for real-life testing, according to Dyson.


James Roberts: MOM incubator

5. James Roberts, MOM

This year’s winner is a low-cost, inflatable incubator for babies in the developing world, created by 23-year-old Loughborough University graduate James Roberts. The product,named MOM, provides an alternative to modern incubation systems that cost £30,000, offering the same level performance but for just £250, which coves the manufacture, testing and transport to its end location.

James says he was inspired to design the piece having watched a documentary about premature babies in refugee camps. He designed the product to be collapsible, allowing it to be easily transported. It can also run off a battery which lasts 24 hours in case of a power shortage, and features include a screen displaying temperature and humidity information, an alarm that sounds in case of temperature deviations, and a phototherapy unit for babies with jaundice. In short, it’s a very smart, very effective, and very valuable piece of kit.